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Former NFL player Joe Ehrmann speaks

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JUNE 26, 2009 7:21 AM

Former NFL player-turned-motivational speaker Joe Ehrmann left an enormous impression on everyone who attended Thursday’s event at Englert Theatre with a message transcending far beyond sports.

“An Evening with Joe Ehrmann” was something special, and it raised more than $10,000 for the UI Children’s Hospital.

“The reality is it’s all about the children. The children have no voice; they have no power,” Ehrmann said. “There needs to be a contract among children and adults to protect them.”

The evening began with a brief speech by former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding, who plays for the San Diego Chargers. Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz then spoke and asked for a moment of silence for Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas, who was killed Wednesday.

“I thought it went outstanding, and to see a big turnout in this theater, that was our goal all along,” Kaeding said.

Kaeding said he has used Ehrmann’s messages off the gridiron as well as on it.



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“He spoke about being a good father, being the best person you can be, and being empathetic,” the kicker said. “Those are all things anyone can apply to life and can always work on.”

Ehrmann, who was defensive lineman for the Baltimore Colts and the Detroit Lions, also cofounded and operates a local Ronald McDonald near his home in Baltimore.

While his playing days may be over, his work in life is far from that. Ehrmann now spends his time speaking, educating, and coaching young men and women.

Building Men and Women for Others is an organization designed to help make people around the world better.

The title of his program couldn’t be more appropriate for Iowa City and the university. Building is something the UI campus is relatively familiar with.

“The program is designed to bring about individual and societal change,” Ehrmann said. “The reality is, if you don’t understand your feelings, you won’t be able to understand love, and this is critical to empathy.”

He believes that is critical to young men’s and women’s development and that young people have difficulty identifying who they are.

“Most social problems in the country are based on this false concept of masculinity and femininity,” he said. “Young people, and especially young men, have a hard time bringing their thoughts into appropriate words. These young men have the inability to put emotions into part of the socialization process.”

Sports, however, is the approach Ehrmann takes into teaching young men and women to be better people. Looking for a way to engage them in the community, and into becoming better, he didn’t have to look far.

“Sports will engage more individuals. It’s a secular religion of America,” Ehrmann said. “Sports are a great place to get to the masses.”

Ferentz praised Ehrmann for his work.

“As good as I thought he was going to be, he was much better,” Ferentz said.

Ehrmann will speak to the Iowa football team today, and Ferentz sounded as though he has been anticipating it.

“Nate told me about his [Ehrmann] talk with the Chargers, and [ex-Hawkeye] Jason Baker told me about his talk with the Panthers, and both talks were well-received by the professional football players,” Ferentz said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us, and I’m sure our team is going to be very affected by it.”

Ehrmann also plans to come out with a movie in October featuring former Colt head coach Tony Dungy. Former Hawkeyes Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders will also make appearances.


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